Safety and the Psychological Impact of Human-Robot Interaction

The goal of this project is to provide information on the perception and physiological impact human-robot interactions.
Description of the Project: 

Physical safety alone does not mean human-robot interaction is safe, other detrimental effects like the "increased risk of mental illness'' (among other things) are of critical importance when working with robotic technologies.

Currently, there is a lack of information on the short and long-term physiological impacts of human-robot interaction. There is also not enough known about the types of individuals using robot (age, types of experience, attitudes, and levels of digital sophistication). The intersection of psychological safety and human-robot interaction has to date focused primarily on individual issues, for example, comfort or user's attitude. While these dilemmas are important, many other subtler safety issues relating to human-robot interaction demand the attention of designers, psychologists, engineers, and related communities. Importantly, we need to look at human-robotic interactive solutions as a whole, taking into account the interrelated and synergistic operation of the system and its broader impact on the user (i.e., human-robotic interaction combines multiple senses, like visual, touch and movement, each of which influences the user's experience).

Advances in immersive technologies, such as, virtual reality (VR) will allow us to explore the psychological impact of various diverse human-robotic interaction scenarios quickly and with a minimum of risk.  Also allows prototype and scenarios to be rapidly created and tested on a range of individuals (i.e., impact of the robot-user experiences).  Also the approach allows for comparisons with human-human interaction compared to human-robot interaction (since the test scenario is virtual and provides a layer of abstraction for the user, i.e., they’re unware if it’s a robot or another user they’re interacting with).

The impact and the effectiveness of the adjustments and the psychological importance (safety) with be recorded and evaluated through physical metrics (e.g., blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory information) in addition to questionnaires, physiological metrics, and behavioural metrics.

Resources required: 
Immersive Technologies (e.g., VR headset and haptic feedback controllers)
Project number: 
First Supervisor: 
Heriot-Watt University
First supervisor university: 
Heriot-Watt University
Essential skills and knowledge: 
Developing virtual reality prototypes (e.g., unity or UE4 for rapid creation and testing).
Desirable skills and knowledge: 

[1] Lasota, Przemyslaw A., Terrence Fong, and Julie A. Shah. "A survey of methods for safe human-robot interaction." Foundations and Trends® in Robotics 5.4 (2017): 261-349.

[2] Lasota, Przemyslaw A., Gregory F. Rossano, and Julie A. Shah. "Toward safe close-proximity human-robot interaction with standard industrial robots." (2014).

[3] Mumm, Jonathan, and Bilge Mutlu. "Human-robot proxemics: physical and psychological distancing in human-robot interaction." Proceedings of the 6th international conference on Human-robot interaction. ACM, 2011.